SINGAPORE - Singapore pioneer artist Lee Man Fong's 100th birth anniversary may have come and gone quietly last year, but local art gallery Beyond Colours and Taiwanese publisher Art Book Company have jointly reprinted his 30-year-old art catalogue to mark the event.
The catalogue, titled The Oil Paintings Of Lee Man-Fong, contains some of his best 160 works done between 1929 and 1978. It had taken the late artist more than 40 years to prepare before he commissioned the Taiwanese publisher to publish it in 1984.
It includes a foreward by the late Chinese master Xu Beihong, who penned the 1,200-word essay for the publication after he met Lee in Singapore in 1941.
The catalogue has been a collector's item since all 2,000 copies of the first edition were sold within three years of its publication. Some of the artist's collectors had paid as much as $3,000 for a copy at antique book auctions.
One collector, Mr Putra Masagung, who donated Lee's 1958 self-portrait that is pictured on the catalogue cover to the Singapore Art Museum in 2005, said: "I owned many of the paintings in the catalogue and I am happy it is being reprinted at last."
A controversial painting Lee painted in 1975 showing two well-dressed Dayak women titled Sisters was among those featured in the catalogue. It was withdrawn from a National Arts Council's auction in 1992 after Lee's family members challenged its authenticity.
Beyond Colours gallery owner Michelle Loh, 50, who deals in Lee's paintings, among those of other Singapore pioneer and second- generation painters, said she wanted to reprint the catalogue as there had been frequent requests for it from collectors in recent years.
"The catalogue, with all the colour and black-and-white prints of the paintings and text in both English and Chinese, including Xu Beihong's foreward, were all edited by Lee himself," she added.